Seven secrets of how new books get readers

Your book has just been published and now you face the question of how to get readers. We look at some of the ways authors get readers and how you can do the same. There are no “magic answers” here, just honest advice.

1. To get readers, you must know who your readers are.

reading booksIt may seem obvious but to get readers, you really must know who your readers are. If you have no idea who would want to read your book, it is almost impossible to reach anyone remotely interested. The world is simply too big a place for anyone to try and reach everyone.

Before you can get readers for your book, you must form a solid idea about who would be interested in your book. Readers are the one character we never talk about. If you know what your potential readers like and want, you will know where to find them. It is a bit like working out a subplot that fits with your wider story. Identify the reader and what they want and you can work out where they are and why they are there.

If you wrote a book about fly fishing and try to promote it in a forum for car enthusiasts, the chances are no one will be interested. After all, you are there being annoyingly off-topic. On the other hand, if you found a fly-fishing enthusiasts group, your book may actually attract some excitement.

Start by considering the themes and topics of your book. What sort of person would find those fascinating? Those are your readers. Now you can go looking for them.

The one character authors never talk about

2. Get readers on Twitter (or don’t)

Using TwitterTwitter can be a tool for getting readers. Sadly, most authors abuse Twitter and get nowhere as a result. That’s because Twitter is not an advertising portal but a social media site – to do well you need to be sociable.

Twitter is a slow burn as a tool for reaching readers. It takes time to build a reputation and a relationship with your followers. There are no tricks, techniques or hacks to speed this process up. Anyone that says otherwise is trying to sell you something fake.

For some authors, Twitter is just not worth the time investment required. I can assure you that loyal and interested followers do pay attention to what you post but if you are boring or spammy, they will ignore you.

Read our article, “Mastering Twitter in 3 Easy Steps” for more about how to use Twitter to get readers. One of the things you will learn is that spamming “read my book” to your followers is a turn off that makes you look desperate.

3. Get readers via SEO (maybe)

Assuming that you know who your readers are and what they want, you can target content that will appeal to your readers.

For example, if you know that your themes would appeal to people interested in military fiction, then you know that a blog post about the future of the military is likely to be a strong draw for those readers. This approach is often known by such titles as “content-led SEO” or “long tail marketing”. SEO is not magic, it is just writing well structured useful content that can be indexed (words rather than pictures).

Well written content (which for you writers should not be a problem) often does very well in search engine results. The practical upshot of this is that (over time) the search engines will send your blog new visitors. If you have set up your platform to make the most of those visitors then you will sell more books.

SEO is not a magic bullet to get readers. However, well-written content is by far the best way to build up a presence in the search engine results.

Don’t forget to use those posts as things to share on your Twitter (or other social media accounts). Your SEO content is likely to be a lot more interesting to your followers than yet another image of your book cover. If you use an Author Buzz blog, your posts will appear in your profile timeline for all our visitors to find (here is mine). If you have a blog elsewhere, you can still connect your feed to a community group (and set up a forum if you wish). Those links should (in theory) help Google and other search engines to find and index your content.

On Author Buzz blogs we supply SEO tools that can help you write effective targetted content. You still have to use your common sense and write well but the tools can help keep you focused.

Check out our guide to structured URL design when setting up a new blog.

4. Get readers from existing readers

girls whisperOne of the best sources of new readers are existing readers. A recommendation from a friend or trusted source carries so much more weight than all the adverts you could ever buy. The process of word spreading like this is called defusion and it can be a powerful ally.

One way to get those recommendations is to simply ask. Assuming that you have made it easy for readers to find you, they usually will. With each new book launch, why not say to your fans “I’d really appreciate it if you told your friends about your favourite book of mine.” Like social media, do that too often and it becomes desperate and off-putting. Time it right though, and your readers will become evangelists for your books.

Many ebook authors have a section at the end that encourages readers to share a link with anyone they think would enjoy or benefit from the ebook. If have already published then it is too late to do that, but it is never too late to ask for a recommendation from your friends and followers.

The same principle applies to your long tail (SEO) content. Add a call to action that asks readers to share your post on social media. This is something I talked about in the blog post about increasing your readership base.

This works best if you already have a mailing list or followers on social media that come and read your blog posts (and a blog for them to be interested in). Even the biggest blogs started the same way as you and then invested time and effort.

There is no shortcut for time and effort. There is, however, ways to work smarter. That’s why we set up Author Buzz UK, so authors can work together to build a following. It is no magic bullet but collective cooperation can help.

5. Get readers by writing for other blogs

Have you heard of guest posting?

A guest post is simply a blog post written by another author. Someone else comes in and writes a post instead of the usual blogger.

Guest posts are good for the blog owner as they get free content, they are good for the readers because the readers get a fresh perspective, and all that is great for you because you can reach new readers.

Assuming you know who your readers are, and assuming you have set up your blog, a guest post on a relevant blog is the fast track to new readers.

How to get a guest post published

First, you will need to find a blog open to the idea of you writing for them. Then you will need to make your approach. That means you need to talk to the blog owner and pitch your idea to them.

When you make your approach, it helps massively if you have a blog already established with at least a few weeks worth of content. That content will act as an example of the sort of article you are likely to supply. It shows off the quality of your writing skills.

Take the time to read the blog so you know exactly what sort of content they like to publish. Try to identify areas of commonality between your blog and theirs. This will help you to show that you can write content that is appropriate to their audience.

Once you get a yes, you need to provide the post in the time frame you agreed. If you did not discuss a time frame, set yourself a deadline of one week.

How to write a guest post

You write a guest post just like any other blog post. However, this is an opportunity to get links and traffic (visitors). Hopefully, you picked a topic for your post that overlaps with topics that you have already written about. Which means you can link to them as part of the article.

Assuming you took the time to get to know your host, you can tailor your content to appeal to their readers. Do not skimp on this stage.

At the end of your post, write a short bio about yourself and include a link to your blog, your Twitter, and your author page (here or on Facebook or wherever you feel is best). This bio is going to get a lot of clicks from readers that enjoyed your post. Take the time to make it a good one.

Where to find guest posting opportunities

There is no quick way to find guest posting opportunities. You need to search out and find blogs in the niche (topic area) that appeals to readers of your book (and blog). You need to get to know the blogs and the blogger behind the blog.

Some blogs, such as Author Buzz, Thanet Star, and Thanet Creative are very clear about wanting guest posts (mainly because I help run those blogs and love guest posts). Others may not have considered it but a solid proposal to write a post for free can be very appealing.

In short – search, make friends, ask if they want a free post. Then do it all again. And again. Keep going until you start getting “yes” as an answer.

6. Get readers by getting reviews

A good review by a popular book review blog will send an avalanche of interested potential readers to your site and to outlets selling your book. While this is amazing for book sales, it is growing increasingly hard to get big reviewers interested.

The problem that you will run into is this – any, even remotely popular, book review blogger is popular. They will have more books offered to them each year than they can read in a lifetime. Many simply refuse to accept new books for review. Some only review books that their favourite publisher sends them.

While it is always worth reaching out to popular reviewers, it might be worth seeking out newer reviewers that have yet to establish a massive following. The up and coming book reviewers are much more likely to be open to receiving a free copy to read and review. Develop a good relationship with the reviewers now and you may still be able to get reviews when they are famous.

If you love reading as much as writing, you could always start your own review blog. Maybe find a few friends to write it with you. Author Buzz is a great place to set up such a blog – we even have themes especially for book reviews.

Book Review Blogs for you to read

7. Already have a platform

As you have probably worked out for yourself, at this stage, having already set up your platform – Twitter, Facebook, blog, Instagram, etc., will save you a lot of work.

If you did not take the time to build up an author platform before publication, you are already playing catch up when it comes to the key task of getting people to read your book. It is not an impossible task, but you have made your life much harder. The good news is, it is never too late to start.

If you have not already done so, I strongly suggest creating an Author Buzz UK account. Author Buzz is a shared author platform where all members can benefit equally from working together. With your account, you can create a community group for your readers and a custom Author Buzz blog (completely free). How much benefit you get, like anything else, depends on how you use your account.

About Matthew Brown

Matthew is a writer and Geek from Kent (UK). He is the founder and current chair of Thanet Creative as well as head geek for Author Buzz. His ambitions include appearing on TableTop with Wil Wheaton and seeing a film or TV series based on something he wrote.

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